Scaling Fintech in Australia: The Committee for Sydney Report Points to Potential for Innovations in Finance

The Committee for Sydney has published a report that points to the potential for Fintech innovation in Sydney and Australia in general. Published with the assistance of KPMG, the document is entitled Scaling the Fintech Opportunity: For Sydney & Australia.

Australia, as a country, may have been late to the Fintech game but the Aussies have recognized the profound economic opportunity and have charged forward with determination and vigor.

In the opening statement, Niall Blair, Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Regional Water & Minister for Trade and Industry, states;

“The New South Wales (NSW) financial services sector is experiencing rapid growth and is cementing its position as a leading financial services hub for the Asia-Pacific region. It is fostering new businesses, driving digital innovation, and creating skilled jobs in an emerging global industry…Sydney is now home to 59% of the nation’s fintech companies, it is the focus for venture-capital investment, and it boasts two locations purpose-built for supporting fintech start-ups. This includes the largest fintech incubator in Asia, Stone and Chalk.”

So where does Australia go from here?

The purpose of the report is to recognize the changes the government and private sector participants have made to improve the Fintech ecosystem. Additionally, the report highlights areas of strength and opportunities moving forward.

Unlocking the potential

The authors have produced a series of recommendations to build upon intrinsic momentum and scale existing success. In brief, the recommendations are as follows:

  • State Government must continue working with partners in the private sector and the Committee for Sydney on the development of a comprehensive Fintech vision and strategy for Sydney
  • Explore the establishment of a not-for-profit Fintech hub in the heart of [Sydney] that co-locates venture capital, technology start-ups and established financial services firms
  • Establish a series of events in the city, regionally and globally to promote Sydney as a leading Fintech hub in the ASPAC region, in line with our leading financial services position
  • Form an independent Fintech focussed industry association, based in Sydney, to give the sector a public voice and champion
  • Review current regulatory, tax and business incentives available to the start-up community and target foreign repeat entrepreneurs and attract them to Sydney
  • Engage the university sector to research key Fintech themes.

In the past three years, Australia has gone from less than a hundred Fintech firms to almost 600. Both Fintech investment and alternative finance volume continue to rise. It is not that Australia is the only player in the region. Both Singapore and Hong Kong have set their sites on playing a dominating role in the APAC region. Where Australia is getting it right is the combination of a supportive government, a risk taking entrepreneurial culture and an ambition to go global quickly. Far larger markets are less structured and organized in their strategic Fintech approach.

Tim Williams, CEO of Committee for Sydney, told AFR that “Fintech is now a key force supporting the forward-looking knowledge economy of the state and indeed the nation.”

There is plenty more in the report. Other countries would do well to study the document and learn a thing or two from a country that wants to compete with the heavy weights of Finance. Having a comprehensive vision for financial innovation, that is embraced by both public and private sector, will only benefit the Aussies in their mission to become a leading Fintech hub.


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